Service hours working on bikes results in young charges of Front Yard Bikes receiving their own ride. Photo by Collin Richie.

From the December issue: Front Yard Bikes shifts gears

Riding a bike is a kid’s initial taste of freedom. The ability to hop on your bike and go somewhere without mom or dad feels like a rite of passage. For Dustin LaFont, bikes are what he uses to instill leadership skills, big-brother like mentorship and life lessons.

Seven years ago, Front Yard Bikes started out with LaFont and a few local teenagers repairing bikes. Since then, Front Yard Bikes has become more of a haven than simply an after-school program. The once longstanding Mid City Bikes on Government Street is now a second home for Front Yard Bikes, where youth are able to put in hours of service working on bikes and, in turn, can receive a bike of their own. It’s like a rite of passage.

LaFont stresses that bikes are more than just recreational. “Bike access is not just for a recreational, leftist, green-minded minority,” says LaFont. “I have young people using two wheels to get to work, to school and to secondary learning opportunities like libraries or other after-school programs.”

That’s why this program is so important. LaFont couples mechanical skills with ideals of trust and responsibility in order to teach his young charges that with hard work and dedication comes reward. Shop manager Leah Conquorgood says it was these ideals and LaFont’s loving approach that brought her here.

“With the shop now, we’ll be able to give these young people a real business sense, a knowledge of how to relate to customers, and how to love on people, straight up, with a mindset that everyone in this city is like family” says Conquorgood.

To learn more about Front Yard Bikes, read this article from inRegister’s December issue, available on newsstands now.